Handbook for Moot Court Success

An excellent handbook on how to win in moot court has been written by Judge Gerald Lebovits and his co-authors. Judge Lebovits knows his subject. As a law student, he won the moot court award for both best speaker and best brief. As a coach, his moot court teams have won more than 100 first-place awards in regional and national intermural competitions. Judge Lebovits is a lecturer-in-law at Columbia Law School and an adjunct professor at Fordham and New York University Law Schools. His handbook will be published as an article in the Capital University Law Review, Vol. 41 (forthcoming 2013), and it can be found by CLICKING HERE.

This comprehensive instruction manual on successful moot court performance covers such important matters as how to: connect with the judge; deliver the argument; structure the argument; and respond to questions. Any law student who aims to win at moot court should read the whole article. Also, the article is useful to any advocate who argues to the bench.

The handbook contains “A Winning Moot Court Oral-Argument Checklist” with 60 solid points that moot court advocates should follow to be victorious. The tips are practical including:

• “Never, ever read. If you use notes, make them short and in bullet-point form on the inside of a manila folder cut down to fit on a small lectern or podium. But winning teams avoid using notes. If you do not use notes, make it obvious to the judges that you are not using notes – such as by slowly buttoning a jacket, slowly pushing in the chair, and slowly walking to the podium while making sure that the judges see hands that are holding nothing.
• “Do not compliment a judge by saying ‘That is an excellent question,’ but you may give a judge a respectful nod to recognize an excellent question.
• “Never begin with ‘this case is about. . .’ Although doing so articulates your theme up front, that beginning leads too often to a judge’s ruining your roadmap with a hostile question or comment articulating your adversary’s theme.’”

Reading and adhering to the wisdom that this handbook provides is likely to lead a moot court advocate to abide by this piece of advice on the checklist:
• “Buy silver polish to show off your winning trophy.”